Ducati Fila's James Toseland came into Assen fourth in a tight points chase led by Regis Laconi, Chris Vermeulen, and Noriyuki Haga
– but following two excellent rides at the legendary Dutch circuit, including one victory, the Brit now heads the 2004 world championship standings with two rounds to go.
Race one saw Toseland secure his second race win of the season, after leading for almost the entire event – but with Pierfrancesco Chili, Laconi, Haga and Vermeulen shadowing his every move. After some typically frantic last lap Assen action, the field would finish in that order – Vermeulen's predicted charge having faltered due to a less than ideal rear suspension set-up.
The second outing would produce further fine action as an outstanding fight developed between Toseland and Vermeulen. The Ten Kate Honda rider attacked Toseland - the front-runner for much of the race - with breathtaking aggression and on the final lap alone the pair exchanged the lead three times, before Vermeulen crossed the line just 0.037secs in front of the Briton, with Haga just 0.117secs from victory for one of the closest ever SBK finishes.
As a result, 14-points now cover Toseland, Vermeulen (-3 points), Laconi (-10 points) and Haga in the championship standings, while Chili's second and fourth places have put him 42-points behind Toseland.
The wins totals in SBK 2004 are now Laconi and Haga with five apiece, Vermeulen with four, Toseland two, with Chili and Garry McCoy taking a single each.
Further down the Assen order Haga's Renegade Ducati team-mate Leon Haslam took his 999RS to an excellent brace of sixth places; the injured Brit having stuck with the lead group for a reasonable period in each race, and his 20 points in total keep him eighth in the championship standings.
Xerox Ducati's Garry McCoy had an up and down Assen, taking a battling eighth place in race one but suffering a technical problem in race two, while a high point of seventh for Troy Corser
was the best result for the Foggy Petronas team, on their updated and uprated FP-1 three cylinder machines. The 900cc triples were a little outgunned at Assen, with Corser riding well in a lonely race two but Chris Walker
not getting into contention.
DFX Ducati's Steve Martin
was a strong seventh in race one, but a crash in race two ruined what was a promising day for the seasoned Aussie rider. His team-mate Marco Borciani scored a ninth and an eighth, with the last two riders in the top ten of race two were Bertocchi Kawsaki's Ivan Clementi and Petronas pilot Walker.